Bratislava... Little City in the Hills

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
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Trip End Jun 01, 2012


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Flag of Slovakia  , Bratislava,
Monday, August 11, 2008

We met up with our temporary landlord at an apartment in the historic section of downtown Bratislava... which became our home for the last 5 days of our European journey... an old art nouveau building with high ceilings and massive windows... and an interesting history... the owner of the apartment shared a few stories about the place... apparently when he and his wife were renovating... stripping the paint from the front door, they found a red swastika painted on the door... a link to the violence against the jews during WWII... knowing a bit about the controversial history surrounding Slovakia during the holocaust... it was a sad reminder of the past... After receiving the keys and listening to other interesting stories about the people... country... and the city itself... we bid farewell... dumped our bags and headed out to grab a bite to eat...

Bratislava is a smallish city... often compared to Prague... it does have hints to it's Czech counterpart... but so few tourists make it more pleasant of a place to "rest"... after many weeks on the road...

We spent a few days resting... walking the city... seeing a few of the sites... eating good food... taking in a few movies... and shopping... for clothes that is... Bought a suitcase and filled it with new clothes and a few other items that are hard to find in Turkey... I am often reminded of what a strange lifestyle we lead... and this was one of those moments... in the end we had all picked up a nice collection of new school clothes... at very good prices... a few herbs that are not to be found back home... and toiletries purchased at a third to a fifth of the cost... One aspect about living in a developing country that can be a challenge, is that "living" can be cheaply accomplished, but living a Western lifestyle... can be very expensive... it is a luxury... and one needs to literally buy into many of the determinants they do not want to be sacrificed... This is the dilemma that all expats face... and each does this dance differently...

We all liked Bratislava... found the young people innovative... and ready to leave communism and it's oppressive aspects far behind... with many of the elderly seemingly oppressed and suspect of foreigners... unwilling to give direction or even glance our way... We had a lively conversation with a man from England who had married a Slovakian woman, had a child and settled down... living there for many years... his insights into the culture helped us not take the random scowls and pursed lips too seriously... We were told that even today... 1/3 of the population of the city lives within the massive communist housing found on the edge of the city... a concrete jungle, the largest of it's kind in Eastern Europe... with an extremely high suicide rate... and a sense of bleakness that has become a tourist site for many visiting Europeans... but... not for us... we filled our days with the bright and cheery...
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